Thomas Aquinas

Aquinas, Thomas (1225-1274)   Thomas Aquinas was born near Naples, Italy. Although nicknamed as a child as “Dumb Ox” (for his large size and slow demeanor), Aquinas is the greatest theologian-philosopher of the Roman Catholic church and the patron saint of their parochial schools. He is best known for synthesizing Greek philosophy with Christian, Islamic and Jewish beliefs.

He was born in the family castle, Roccasecea, and later imprisoned there by his family for abandoning their career plans for him. His family wanted him to be abbot like his uncle but Aquinas (then 18) chose to enter the Dominican order and a lead a life of poverty. After a year or so of imprisonment, Aquinas complemented his education at the University of Naples by moving to Paris to become a student of Albertus Magnus. Completing his doctorate at 31, Aquinas taught for 3 years at the University of Paris before moving to Rome as a papal advisor. Nine years later, Thomas returned to Paris to teach and write. It was there he made his greatest contribution to philosophy. 

Thomas Aquinas is the great synthesizer of faith and philosophy. He combined the best ideas of Aristotle, Augustine, Averroes and Maimonides. From the jumble of Gree, Christian, Islamic and Jewish thought, Aquinas sought to bring clarity. Aquinas sought a middle ground between Augustine’s dependence on revelation and Aristotle’s emphasis on empirical knowledge. He noted that sensory information is processed by the mind According to Aquinas the mind and body work together; man is both animal and spiritual (soul). Made in the image of God, man is capable of thinking and willing. Although nothing in the world is accidental, man has the psychological freedom to be the primary mover of his psychological universe. Man may be a highly specialized animal, but he possesses a soul.

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